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Cool Meals from Tuscany

Tuscan Recipes to Beat the Heat

Cool Meals from Tuscany

Summer in the Tuscan countryside is the sound of cicadas in a still afternoon, the breeze in a early evening while you water your vegetable garden, a dark and cool kitchen where you can indulge in refreshing food even during the heat of the midday sun.

Seasonal vegetables, good olive oil, Tuscan bread and a drizzle of vinegar are the key ingredients of many recipes passed from mother to daughter, perfect to beat the summer heat.

La panzanella - Bread salad

If we want to be really strict ingredient-wise, the best tomatoes for panzanella are the costoluti fiorentini, and the perfect onion is the Certaldo IGP, sweet and juicy. On the other hand, you can not accept any compromise on bread: bland Tuscan bread, possibly baked in a wood oven, a few days old.


  • 300 g of stale Tuscan bread
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 red onion
  • Basil
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White wine vinegar

Tear the bread into large pieces, put it in a large bowl and soak it with water. They used to make panzanella with leftover homemade baked bread: it had a very different and better flavour and took a lot of time to soak up.
Slice thinly the onion and soak it in cold water, to shade its strong taste.
Chop the tomatoes and slice the cucumber.
After 10 minutes, when the bread is soft, squeeze it, crumble it with your hands, put it in a large bowl and dress it with the well drained onion, the chopped tomato, the sliced cucumber and the fresh basil, torn roughly with your hand.
Season with salt and drizzle generously with of extra virgin olive oil, then pour a small quantity of white wine vinegar.
If you prefer a more delicate vinegar, opt for an apple cider vinegar.
Set aside for half an hour in the fridge, then it's ready to be eaten.

Bruschetta al pomodoro - Tomato bruschetta

The bruschetta al pomodoro is extremely simple to make, though it requires the best tomatoes of the season, sweet, juicy but most of all ripened naturally under the sun.
Use different types of tomatoes to add more nuances to the flavour of your bruschetta: choose fleshy tomatoes like the ox-heart tomato, my absolute favourites, the San Marzano or the sweet cherry tomatoes.


  • 4 slices Tuscan bread
  • 400 g ripe tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Fresh herbs

Wash, seed and dice the tomatoes then put them in a large bowl.
Season them with salt, freshly ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, a clove of crushed garlic and coarsely chopped fresh herbs: I like basil, fresh oregano and mint to give extra freshness to my bruschetta.
Make this well in advance, allowing a few hours to let the tomatoes infuse their flavours.
Leave them well covered in the fridge, then when you're almost ready to bring them to the table spoon them generously over slices of toasted bread. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil.
If you want the bread to be slightly soaked by the tomato juices, wait at least half an hour before serving them, otherwise enjoy them freshly made.

La bruschetta ai peperoni arrostiti - Roasted pepper bruschetta

Along with the tomato bruschetta, another family classic for the summer is the bruschetta with roasted peppers. Yellow and red peppers are broiled until charred and sweet, while the green pepper is added raw, to enrich this summer spread with a subtle fresh and green note and give an extra crisp bite.
Sometimes my grandma spreads a thin layer of mayonnaise on the bread - she really loves it. In this case you can choose a soft white bread and you don't need to toast it.


  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • 1 green pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Tuscan bread or whole wheat bread

Preheat oven to 180°C, grill function.
Wash the red and yellow peppers and place them whole in the oven until the skin begins to get burnt here and there.
Remove the peppers from the oven - be careful with them, they usually contain a steaming cooking liquid - and close them into a plastic bag for at least an hour. This will help you to peel them easily.
After an hour, when they are completely cooled down, peel the peppers and dice them.
Gather the diced peppers into a bowl and stir in the raw green pepper, previously cut into small cubes, season with extra virgin olive oil, one crushed clove of garlic, salt, freshly ground black pepper and oregano to taste.
Let them in the fridge for a few hours to enhance their flavours until you are ready to serve them: the roasted pepper spread can be served on toasted slices of Tuscan bread, of wholewheat bread, of a baguette or of some white bread.
Serve the roasted pepper bruschette with a few leaves of fresh basil or oregano.

Insalata estiva di trippa - Summer tripe salad

The most typical Tuscan recipe for trippa calls for a thick tomato sauce, a good simmering on the stove, a generous grating of Parmigiano, a chunk of fresh crusty bread and a chilly winter evening. Tripe is such a cheap and rewarding cut of meat which should be enjoyed not just during the cold season, though.
During summer you would usually dress the previously boiled tripe with celery, carrot, black olives and a bunch of parsley. A drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar are the final touch to this salad.
You can also season the tripe salad like ''panzanella'', choosing different varieties of tomatoes to add colour and taste


  • 400 g of pre cooked tripe
  • 250 g of not too ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of black olives, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon of green olives, pitted
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Apple cider vinegar

Rinse tripe under cold running water, then cook it in a large pot of boiling water for about ten minutes. Drain it, let it cool down then slice it into 1 cm thick slices.
Chop tomatoes and slice thinly the onion. Put the onion in a bowl with cold water for about ten minutes, thus the onion will lose the bitter taste and get a sweeter note.
Put the sliced tripe in a serving bowl, add the chopped tomatoes, the well drained onion, the black and green olives.
Season the tripe salad with your best extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of apple cider vinegar. Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to allow some time to the flavours to mingle. Serve at room temperature.

Our Insider is Giulia Scarpaleggia

Giulia is a food writer and blogger, native of Tuscany (that iconic rolling countryside between Siena and Florence), and lover of all things in the kitchen. Her bilingual cooking and food blog Juls' Kitchen is one of the most popular blogs about Italian cuisine, and Giulia's writing and recipes appear in numerous other blogs and websites. She also teaches Tuscan cooking classes and is currently working on her third cookbook.

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